For those of us who don’t often ride bikes in harsh winter conditions, late-season rides – made possible by relatively mild temperatures – can inject fun and fitness into months when there ordinarily aren’t many opportunities to enjoy bicycling.
The last few weeks, for example, have been peppered with some really chilly, uninviting conditions. Yet, there have been several days with generous sunshine and daytime temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s – completely doable if you have some basic winter clothing.
With my 2020 cycling mileage goal of 2,000 miles already attained about a month ago, I still try to make the most out these late-season temperature swings. With all these relatively mild days – and apparently some more forthcoming – I’m not reaching 2,500 miles.
After all, I don’t mind a little cold. Dressing in dry-fit layers and protecting my toes, hands, knees and face, the fall cold doesn’t have a dramatic effect on me. Plus, when there’s even a little sunshine, the situation improves dramatically, both in terms of my body temp and my mental outlook.
There are several other advantages to late-season riding, particularly on the Wheelway and other paved and gravel paths. The first and most apparent benefit is that there are comparatively few cyclists out there in such conditions. Most riders opt for warmer days and will shy away from the mild discomfort of cool weather cycling. Less traffic means more physical safety. Plus, it’s better in terms of social distancing.
Shorter days and longer nights, however, mean you might be riding after sunset. A simple bicycle headlight/taillight set (USB-rechargeable hopefully), coupled with bright clothing, can dramatically improve visibility for motorists. Such a set-up will also give the cyclist greater peace of mind, improving the overall experience.
Though you may dress appropriately for conditions, there is still a good chance of getting cold, especially toward sundown. And if that’s the case, there’s only one thing left to do: RIDE HARDER!